Filters can make anything look good. I swear to good you could put X Pro II on a photo of dog shit and that would make it Insta-worthy. Most of us know that what we see on Instagram isn’t real life but it still doesn’t stop us from comparing ourselves to others on our down days. Social media can be a lot of fun to use but when taken too seriously it can have a worrying effect on your happiness and self-esteem so it’s important to see things in perspective. And by that, I mean see through people’s bullshit. Here’s 7 things to remember next time you’re on Instagram.
1. Clean Eating isn’t Inspirational – it’s judgey AF
It’s almost impossible to scroll though Instagram without seeing a yoga-loving vegan share a picture of avocados accompanied by 64000 hashtags about ‘clean-eating’. It’s not the images of the food that are annoying as such but rather the smug, moralistic language that is adopted by clean-eaters when they preach about the benefits of their dairy-free, meat-free, gluten-free, fat-free, alcohol-free, sugar-free, flavour-free, fun-free, holier-than-thou lifestyles. Such moralistic language might seem harmless or even normal, however it actually has really negative connotations by suggesting that anything remotely unhealthy is ‘dirty’, ’naughty’ and therefore something we should feel guilty about. Excuse me but if there’s one thing that’s going to nourish my mind, body and soul after a long day at work it’s wine and chocolate not a fucking carrot and beetroot smoothie from a Deliciously Ella cook book (which F.Y.I is the furthest thing from delicious). This is something no one should feel guilty about so it would be really nice if the Gwyneth Paltrow wannabes of Instagram could stop marketing themselves as #inspo icons just because unlike 99.9 % of the rest of us they actually like vegetables. There is absolutely nothing inspirational (or healthy) about self righteous self-denial, even if it’s cleverly disguised under the façade of self-love. There’s only one thing that makes a person ‘clean’ and that’s showering. It’s got nothing to do with kale which let’s be honest just smells and taste like farts.
2. It’s normal to sweat at the gym
Whenever I see someone post the classic, well done to me post-workout selfie I think two things. 1)I wish you were dead and 2) Why the fuck aren’t you sweating? On the odd occasion I do go the gym I get so sweaty I have to take a towel and some baby wipes to clean the sweat marks my ass leaves on the machines. I spend about half my time exercising and the other half cleaning up after myself and I still come out looking like I’ve been for a 3 hour dip in the ocean. For years I wondered if I had an abnormal sweating problem and looking at flawless gym-bunnies on Instagram made me even more self-conscious. Yet one day it hit me that I wasn’t sweating because I was a monster, I was sweating because I was exercising which is…. NORMAL, HOORAH! Research suggests that people who post about their work outs and other achievements are ‘typically narcissistic’ so it’s no surprise that they wouldn’t want others to know that they also look like Gollum after half an hour on a treadmill. Gym Selfies are not an accurate reflection of how most women look when they exercise, so keep this in mind next time someone’s ‘I ran a marathon without breaking a sweat’ photo makes you feel bad about yourself.
3. You Probably didn’t Wake Up Like This
Taking the perfect selfie is hard at the best of times, let alone first thing in the morning when you’ve got tangled hair, panda eyes and breath so bad that people can probably smell it through the camera of your phone when you send your morning snapchats. If someone’s posted an #iwokeuplikethis selfie looking totally flawless then what they probably mean is ‘I woke up half an hour ago, put makeup on and took 56 photos to look like this’. I hope this doesn’t make me sound bitter. I’ll be the first to admit that every time I try to take a selfie be it 10am or 10pm I end up looking like an obese thumb with acne. However I do believe that even the best of us need a bit of time to freshen up before we start the day. If we all put the first selfie we took of a morning onto our Instagram feeds (without filters), I’m sure there’d be a lot more photos like this…. And you know what? That wouldn’t be a bad thing.
4. People Get Paid to Post Things
You may have heard the term, ‘social-influencers’ flying around these days and it basically refers to people who use their ‘influence’ on social media to reach consumers for brands who pay them to promote their products. There is nothing inherently wrong about this but it’s worth bearing in mind when you see someone from Ex on the Beech use their new found fame to promote questionable cosmetics like Bamboo Charcoal Tooth Polish. I know this makes me sound like a crank but women are bombarded enough with ads telling us we need everything from to chin-slimming straps to arsehole bleach to look good. The last thing we need is Megan McKenna telling us that a £12 tub of black paste churned out of a factory in China is the all-natural solution to a problem scientists and dentists have thus far been unable to answer. If a trend catches your eye on Instagram by someone who has a few thousand followers or c-level fame remember that they probably got paid a small fortune to post about it, so do your research! A majority of Instagram’s diet and beauty trends have no scientific proof behind them whatsoever so if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Take it from a person whose pre-holiday BooTea detox resulted in spending a two hour train ride to London on the toilet. I’ve seen that diet promoted literally hundreds of times by bloggers and celebrities on Instagram and not one of those bitches thought to mention that getting the shits was a side effect. Sadly when it comes to social media advertising, honesty literally doesn’t pay.
5. A Good Photo takes Time and Preparation
Look in any woman’s bag and there’s a few common things you’ll find: a purse, tampons/pads, old receipts, makeup, deodorant, lose chain and a glittery gooey substance that looks like your lipgloss leaked on a piece of rotten chewing gum (okay maybe that’s just me). Yet if you were to scroll through Instagram right now you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only items some people carry around come in rose-gold containers. Carefully crafted posts where Charlotte Tilbury makeup appears to casually roll out of someone’s bag onto a marble table top next to a designer scented candle and a Mac Book with no finger print stains on the key board might seem natural but they actually take a long time to prepare and get right. Lifestyle and beauty bloggers amass thousands of followers through posts like these but it doesn’t mean their lives are neat and tidy and perfect, it just means they’re skilled photographers.
Instagram Vs Real Life
6. We all choose to show our most flattering angles
On the same day a photo could capture your body looking hundreds of different ways. Just a simple tweak of posture, clothing, camera angle, and lighting can affect how you look. Filters allow us to edit our appearance further, giving us the option to get rid of blemishes and choose any skin tone from as white as Casper the Friendly Ghost to as brown as Ross from Friends on the one where he gets a spay tan. We all know how to enhance our appearance using Instagram and most of us only choose to show our most flattering angles. There’s nothing wrong about this and it’s only natural to want to look nice on photos. However it’s still worth keeping in mind next time you’re on Instagram because research suggests that when people – especially young girls and women, look at highly edited attractive images on social media, they compare them to their own appearance and see themselves as less attractive. When done over a long time appearance-comparison can affect your body image, mood and self-esteem so next time you see something on social media that makes you feel bad about yourself, think about how edited or staged the post may be. After all, no one walks around with their stomach sucked in and their arse popped out as this would cause serious back ache! Everyone gets cellulite, everyone gets bloated, everyone gets fat rolls over their jeans and everyone has days when they look like they’re pregnant but actually just need to poo. It’s totally normal. It just might not seem that way because we never share posts about it.
7. Think about what you ‘like’ & follow
I would love to sit here and tell you not to feel pressured to only show your best angles on Instagram. I’m sure most of us would find it refreshing to see more realistic images on social media however I get that owning your double chin is easier said than done. What isn’t hard though is to stop liking and following unrealistic, highly edited accounts, especially if you find that every time you go on social media you come off it feeling worse about yourself. The interesting irony about Instagram is that the same posts that most of us find irritating or attention seeking (e.g posts about achievements, work outs, relationships and constant selfie taking) are the ones that get the most likes. The most famous Instagram models, lifestyle, diet and fitness accounts are where they are because their narcissism is validated by the thousands of followers and likes they acquire. This creates an incentive for them to continue to portray a picture-perfect lifestyle, fostering the growth of Instagram’s unrealistic beauty, body and lifestyle expectations. Yet if we turned our attention away from these accounts and only followed people we actually liked or who made us smile, we’d remember that Instagram is just a fun way to share memories and memes, not a platform for ogling over and liking photos of seemingly perfect strangers. Next time you’re on Instagram ask yourself .. do I really give a shit about this person? If the answer is no unfollow them. We all need a detox once in a while and an Instagram one is much easier to stick to than a juice one.
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